Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 70

Everyone recovered from turkey overdose? Never want to see another one of those damn birds for as long as you live? Then let us help you forget Thanksgiving ever happened by giving you the latest edition of Reader Roundtable! This month’s selection features lots of games worth checking out, and there’s no better way to decide which games you want for Christmas!


Power Base Converter By Ken Horowitz

I’ll admit it, between my new PBC and Skyrim, I haven’t been playing much stock Genesis. I have, however, been getting a lot of mileage out of my pre-TMSS model 1 unit by way of some great Master System games. I finished Kung-Fu Kid and got darn far in Time Soldiers, but I still haven’t gotten the hang of Action Fighter. Playing these great games is a breeze with my three-button Genesis controller, but I do need a Light Phaser. I really want to play some Rescue Mission! My next goal is to find a couple of card games to see if the card slot on the PBC works. The whole unit is in excellent condition, but I want to make sure everything is in order. A fellow forum member traded me a pair of boxed 3D glasses, so it’s time to get my 8-bit groove on! And to think my Genesis makes it all possible…

Star Odyssey By Sebastian Sponsel

Earlier this month I was surprised to find a slip in my letterbox, notifying me that a package had arrived and that I needed to provide some ID in addition to said slip when I come pick it up. That was slightly odd, since this usually only applied to certified letters (which the slip claimed it wasn’t) or overseas packages, which I couldn’t recall ordering. It was only when checking the spam folder in my email account that cleared the identity of the package: Early in November I had received my notification that my copy of Star Odyssey had finally shipped! I had placed my order back in late June, and since it was out of stock and there was a delay in shipment, I had totally forgotten about it.

I didn’t have much time to play this month, but I nevertheless thought that after taking so long to arrive (I mean, in addition to the four months after order the game had spent 20 years literally lost in translation), I figured I should at least check it out once, before it just lands on my currently ever-growing piles of games I mean to play one day but currently don’t find the time to.

First impression? It’s… adequate. I don’t quite know how to better word my first impression. I guess it’s not all that fair to say, but the game clearly shows it’s age, especially in the graphics department. Star Odyssey was conceived (as Blue Almanac) in the early years of the Genesis, and if you compare the mechanics and the looks to the other “new” releases for the platform (like Beggar Prince or Pier Solar), I can’t say that they appeal to me as much as the others do. Mind you, I only played for about half an hour, so I can’t really say much about the overall quality. There is some promise in this game, and I’d love to learn more about how the story develops. It just didn’t grip me and draw me in right away. Though my lack of spare time is currently more to blame for that one, I admit.

Nevertheless, I’d still love to congratulate Super Fighter Team for their efforts in bringing this game to western audiences even after twenty years, and I’d like to thank Brandon for sending out the copy after all that time; thanks for thinking about it when I had totally forgotten! Keep up the efforts, and my you bring many more games to our favorite console in the future.

Shining Force II By Christian Matozzo

I’ll admit, I’m not a big RPG guy. The repetitive gameplay, the clichéd environments and storylines, high prices, and rabid fanbase were enough to keep me away from the genre for a very, very long time. One of the few RPG series that I did enjoy was Fire Emblem for Nintendo’s GBA and Gamecube. So when I found out that Sega’s Shining Force series was the same kind of gameplay, I knew I had to check it out.

So I picked up Shining Force III for my Sega Saturn from a friend of mine. I’m having a ball with it and get about halfway through the game before I find out that the game has a little bit of disc rot and I can’t continue playing the game. Darn, it was just getting good too! Then I realize that the Shining Force series has installments on my beloved Genesis as well. So I snag a copy of Shining Force II and I was blown away with how great this game was! The awesome tactical gameplay, the great music, the graphics, and the story was fairly compelling too! I was rolling through the game at a pretty fast pace, and before I knew it I was at the new continent in the game. I had great expectations to finish this one and put it in my top ten games of all-time list.

And then Shining Force II really dropped the ball! I find myself walking aimlessly around this continent with acres upon acres of grass, looking for small caves and other places that are hard to distinguish. The game took a super dive for me here, because it started to get too much like Castlevania II. How is anyone supposed to figure this out? Put the block
in the tree here, find the cave there, By the time I figured out where to go and what to do with hours of walking, I found myself in the basement of some guy’s mansion where he had an altar with evil spirits and creepy candles. Man, what a story killer! How do we go from this happy-go-lucky medieval band kind of story to super occult stuff? This is just a bit too creepy for me. And after all of that, there’s been next to no advancement of the plot! Blah.

Needless to say, I haven’t turned on the game since. I don’t think I’ve ever lost interest in a video game this quickly before! Oh well…back to hunting down another copy of Shining Force III….

Road Rash III By Steven Campbell

Road Rash III was a very popular game in my neighborhood back when it came out in 1995. I was lucky enough to get a copy of it that Christmas and played the crap out of it for years with my little brothers. All of my friends wanted it, especially after my uncle brought home some cheat codes he got from a friend at work.

I remember a few years later when I was about 13, I loaned a few Genesis games to a friend of mine from school who lived in the neighborhood. This particular friend had a 17 year-old big brother that was a big, greasy, intimidating, bad ass motorcycle dude, with his own motorcycle, tattoos, and everything. He was a real troublemaker, always getting into fights, and thrown out of school. I always did my best to just stay out of the guys way until this one day. My friend came over early one morning and told me that his big brother wanted to talk to me. I asked why, but he told me that he wouldn’t say, he just told me to come get you real fast. I immediately got very nervous because I couldn’t figure out what the guy would want from me. I was a little guy when I was 13, so I grabbed one of my little brothers for backup, and we went to see what he wanted. Upon arrival, the guy was smoking dope, and lifting weights…  a bunch of weights. I started to get really nervous as he approached me, and then he asked “Is that your Road Rash III video game?,” “Yeah”, I replied, “What do you want for it?” he asked. Then surprisingly, he started going into conversation with us about how awesome of a game it is, and how cool we were for playing it. I can’t remember what it was exactly that was traded (probably some other game that wasn’t nearly as good), but I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell the guy no. He really liked the game, so I never played it again until a few years ago when I started collecting.

As for the game, it’s the best in the series in my opinion. Each of the three Genesis Road Rash games are excellent, and worth owning, but the third is my favorite. There is just so much to it. The music isn’t the best, but it is nice. There are some long compositions, with a few excellent guitar solos, and even a few double bass pedal “blast beats” in one track. The animated scenes in between races are hilarious, and the gameplay is better than any other game in the franchise. Road Rash III is the definitive Road Rash game in my opinion, and one of the best games on the Genesis.

Crystal’s Pony Tale By The Coop

Ever seen a game that just made you want to play it? Oh, not for the reasons you’d expect. You know, good graphics, cool gameplay, great music… things like that. No, I’m talking about a game that makes you wonder, What in the hell could this be like? I have to find out! I had just such a moment not long ago; one that led to a banner being made for this very site, and that’s now become an idea for a Roundtable entry. And so, it’s with that bit of an intro that I bring to you, Crystal’s Pony Tale.

You’re a rather… colorful, pony, out to save your equally malcolored friends from the clutches of an evil witch. Along the way, you’ll go through a forest, a cave, some farmland, and other such locales in your quest, while being helped by thought bubbles put up by various other animals in the stages as they give you clues about what to do next. You can jump, kick with your forelegs, collect keys to unlock treasure chests, grab gems that will allow you to free your friends, and finally, pick up magical horseshoes that will be needed to exit levels. There are some simple traps to avoid, and easy enemies to best, but it’s mostly just “find this gem, free that pony, move on,” all without a whole lot getting in the way. Once you’ve freed your friends, you then face the infamous witch. Two hits later (seriously, two hits), you’re done and at the ending.

Now I’ll give the game credit; it actually does have gameplay, and a point to the whole thing (unlike drivel such as Belle’s Quest). You can fight back and avoid enemies, and to free the ponies, you at least have to best a “boss” (it’s just the witch over and over, who goes away each time after two hits). The graphics are simple and colorful, there’s some good animation to be found, the sound effects and music are average, and there are even some hidden areas to find here and there that’ll give you extra keys and/or magical horseshoes. So for what’s supposed to be a girl’s game made in the ’90s, at least the developers tried a little. As one would expect though, it’s painfully easy (you basically have to try to be killed, and even then you likely won’t die), and it’s also rather sloppy in spots (the horse moves forward in sizable chucks as opposed to just taking a step, there’s some control lag, jumping is a bit off at times, etc.), but at least there’s an actual game here. Not a good one mind you, but…

So yeah, Crystal’s Pony Tale. My Little Pony without the license, basically. If you have a little girl, and you’re introducing her to the Genesis, you might consider picking it up, especially if she’s a fan of the aforementioned franchise. She’ll probably get a kick out of it for a little while, if for no other reason, than getting to color her pony in the options screen. It won’t tax her mind or reflexes, but watching a colorful (understatement there) pony gallop about in front of pastel backgrounds might get her interested long enough for you to get her to try much better games afterward.

Dune: The Battle for Arrakis By Greg Jurkiewicz

Back in the early ’90s I remember playing Dune on my friend’s computer and thinking that it was the coolest game I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t until almost 20 years later that I realized it was ported to my favourite game console – the Genesis. You can imagine my excitement as I frantically scoured the net in an effort to track down a copy. Well, it was a little tricky finding a complete copy in decent shape, but I lucked out and someone was selling it on another forum I frequent. Two weeks later the game arrived, and I felt like it was 1993 as I plugged it into my Genesis. It was a good purchase, as the Genesis port turned out to be very faithful to the original and the fun was just as I remembered it. It’s an early generation strategy game, so obviously it wouldn’t stand up to the likes of Star Craft or the Command & Conquer games, but with its simplicity comes a greater need for strategy. You have to use each unit wisely and being forced to control them one at a time gives you some time to focus on tactics. Using a spare spice harvester to defend the base from enemy soldiers is just as exciting as I remember it. There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing the enemy troops scream as you command the giant machine the flatten them into the barren terrain of Arrakis. This is by far one of the best, most overlooked games on the Genesis.

Sonic CD By The Jackal

What with the game recieving an upgraded port to Steam, PSN and Xbox Live very soon now, I’ve recently gone back to playing the original Mega CD version of Sonic CD. I’m going to keep this short and sweet. This game is excellent, one of the best titles on the system, with fluid animation, pure adrenaline action and one kickass soundtrack (both of the U.S. and Japanese soundtracks are great, though I find the Japanese one fits best due to the anime setting), there’s little reason why this is my second favourite Sonic title (Sonic 3 & Knuckles beats it, but only by a little). And now that the game is getting re-released, with all-sorts of cool extras, it’s never been a better time to experience this masterpiece. That, or go the retro route and dust down your Sega CD. Either way, play it now; you won’t regret it.

Final Fight CD By Frank Villone

Metro City, a well-known crime capital, is completely overrun with street-fighting criminals! In fact, they seem to be the only inhabitants. The new mayor, Mike Haggar, had planned to clean up the streets, so in retaliation, the Mad Gear gang has kidnapped his daughter! Haggar knows it is time to discard his shirt and hit the mean streets, to beat the hell out of everyone in sight, and so eventually rescue Jessica. He is joined by her boyfriend, Cody, and their friend Guy. Thankfully Haggar is a former champion street fighter, and the other two have mastered martial arts and Ninjutsu!

Final Fight CD is a nearly perfect port of the arcade classic, and it is always worth mentioning that the Super Nintendo received two very lame versions of Final Fight, both inaccurate to the arcade, and both horribly incomplete. Here is Final Fight with all three playable characters, two-player mode, and all six brutal stages of thugs, knife-throwers, clones of Andre the Giant, and more! The CD soundtrack is full of relaxing electric guitar riffs, which somehow fit the lonely mission of taking down an entire city, using only one’s fists, plus the weapons scattered everywhere. Knives, swords, and steel pipes will help take out the trash!

The limited number of credits actually poses the greatest challenge here, as it can seem impossible to beat the game without running out of lives first. Of course, this stretches out the replay value if one wishes to finish it, and so must practice avoiding more damage while destroying everybody in the city. The gameplay is joyful, and it is pure therapy and stress release! Grab a metal pipe and go at it!

 Space Harrier II By Frank Ramirez

I’m not really sure what it was that drew me to this game initially. Did I want some classic arcade action rather than an adventure or RPG for once? Did I want to experience the sequel to a prolific Sega game that I’d even barely played? Did I just need to burn my Wii points on SOMETHING? Or maybe all three? Either way, I’m pretty satisfied with this game and find myself enjoying it whenever I need a good little bit of an adrenaline rush!

There’s a number of things about this game that REALLY impressed me on the technical side. The scaling effect along the ground is really nice and smooth! I didn’t think early Genesis games could do such a thing! The announcer saying “Get ready!” was also surprisingly clear. I know that Genesis games are notorious for having scratchy voice samples, but this one blew the others clear out of the water! And while on the subject of audio, I really, REALLY like the music and sound effects. They definitely have that distinct Genesis sound that I think we all love.

Guess I should give the first game a shot then, right?

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